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1932 Studebaker Indy car build


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Gary, with all those great hand made body panels, I wouldn't have the heart to paint the car. Will you paint it? And if so, will you copy something back in the day.......or something new?

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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As for paint, I'm sticking with tradition.  In 1932, there were five cars:

#18, the blue car currently owned (and raced) by Mike Cleary

#22, the maroon car, currently held prisoner in the Indy Speedway Museum, never allowed to leave the premises

#25, the silver car that was rebodied for 1933 as the white #34 car, stayed that way, currently owned and raced by August Grasis III

#37, the green car previously owned and raced by the late Bob Valpey, sold in October 2019 to a museum in Salt Lake City

#46, the black car, of which a reconstruction or replica exists in Switzerland, has been run in vintage events in Europe

 

So, since there isn't a silver #25 car around, that's what I am re-creating.  It will get silver paint with some sparkle in it.  All the 1932 cars got pearlescent paint, probably with fish scales or some similar pearlescent material added.  If an aluminum car gets polished and left bare, it will always need to be polished (see old airplanes), lots of upkeep and manual labor, not good for old guys.  If I was bolder, I'd use a silver-tinted version of color shift paint, of which I am the inventor, circa 1980, but that would be way over the top.  Here's a rendering of how I want the car to look.

 

1932_Studebaker_Indy_cars.thumb.jpg.927f5a2ead852b066d1252dd9ad8245f.jpg 

Pages from the Studebaker company magazine in 1932. 

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Computer rendering of my car painted silver from the 3D CAD model created for me by HUM3D from my CAD files and about 200 photos of #18 and #37.

You can see a good view of the front of the belly pan here.

 

 

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I actually have a sample of the 1931 Pierce Arrow paint you are talking about. It was called Platinum Silver, and had a light metallic in it, it was very, very fine metallic. It was NOT color stable, and shifted to a darker color ending up in a very muddy brown/silver final color after a few years. It was used on a 1931 Pierce Arrow Series 42 Dual Cowl show car. I think it originally was a bright silver, and the sample I saw in the early 70’s was about 90 percent turned, except under some tape. That still looked pretty good, and within a fer months shifted brown to dark brown. Pierce was owned by Stude at that time.......so it’s a good bet the two colors are the same. I have a newspaper article saying the Platinum Sliver was “brilliant and bright”. So I think a nice silver today with a very, very small metallic flake would be a fair representation. Thanks for the color lesson.........and I agree, build your to look different than all the rest. 👍

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Also........let’s hear about the paint you invented. Sounds interesting..........thanks. Ed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been too hot to get much time in the garage - over 100° F the last few days.  And that's in coastal Massachusetts!  There isn't air conditioning in the garage, though right now it's tempting to think about a heat pump for heating and cooling.  Since I'm paying outrageous prices for propane ($4.25/gallon +), my winter heating costs would go down by 60-70%.  It would take a while to recover the $5,000 for the installation but it might extend my working hours.

 

I've been trying to wire up the engine and dash.  I got some 2 gauge battery and ground cables from CustomBatteryCables.com and some ground straps.  The positive cable runs from the Optima battery to the master switch on the dash, then down to a bulkhead feedthrough on the firewall and over to the starter.  There are insulating covers on all the lugs.  A 2 gauge ground also runs through the firewall and then to the starter housing.  That should make the starter spin pretty well.  Behind the dash is currently a rat's nest of wires to connect all the gauges and switches.  Once all the wires are strung and the circuits checked out, I'll lace the wires in neat bundles with waxed cord and secure them to the dash and cowl framework.  As most of these are completely under the cowl, they won't be visible.  I'll try to hide the wires for fuel pump, fan, gas gauge, headlights, tail lights, and turn signals up under the frame rails.  What may remain visible in the engine compartment can get wrapped in black friction tape, though it's nice to know that each wire was printed by Ron Francis Wiring to indicate what it connects. 

2075071967_firewallwiring1.thumb.jpg.80325d52145bfb94e8bfb926578408f5.jpg

Firewall, regulator, and starter wiring.

 

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Dash wiring partially complete, before lacing.

 

Edinmass wanted to know about the color-changing paint I invented 40 years ago when I worked at Optical Coating Laboratory in Santa Rosa, CA.  The company was later sold to JDS-Uniphase and is now known as Viavi Solutions.  I don't get any royalties, as employees of most industrial companies have to sign away their patent rights.  The paint and ink was first covered by US patent 4,434,010.  Google "ChromaFlair paint" and look at the images.  Otherwise, pull out a $20 bill and look at the number in the lower right corner that changes from gold to green in sunlight.  Here's a link to a video of an extreme example as painted on a Porsche:  

   

 

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Gary - a number of bare metal rodders and customizers are finishing their bare metal cars using a gun stock finish known as Birchwood-Casey TruOil. You can literally apply it with your bare hand (although I prefer a clean cotton rag). It would take a couple bottles of the stuff, as you'd want more than one coat - but it adheres to metal well, and would protect it. I have been using it to finish elecric guitars for nearly 10 years now, and recommend it highly. I would love to try it out on a bare metal car..... But I know too many body and paint guys!

 

$_57%20(65).JPG

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14 hours ago, Gary_Ash said:

. . . . about the color-changing paint I invented 40 years ago when I worked at Optical Coating Laboratory in Santa Rosa, CA. 

 

So it was really you, Gary, that my paint sprayers were cursing about, when they were trying to match these paints on some of the cars that came into my bodyshop for accident repair! 😊

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Mike, that's why the inks are used for anti-counterfeiting.  If you don't have the flakes from exactly the same batch/formula, the colors will never be the same.  On the other hand, when you do have the right stuff, matching should be good.  After 40 years of production, there are lots of different tints and it may not be possible to get a match for older ones.  So, just repaint the whole car, LOL!🤣

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Gary, my post was rather 'tongue in cheek' - I could not resist making the comment. It's now 15-years since I retired and sold my businesses to the guys that worked there. The Jaymic bodyshop gave up accident repair work to concentrate on the restoration of classic BMW's. I don't think it was due to the problems with matching your paints! 😉, It was more that the insurance companies did not want to pay for the hours it took to carry out the repairs to Jaymic's standards.

 

I am very much enjoying you posts on this Indy car build. Keep up the great work.

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On 7/28/2020 at 9:59 AM, Gary_Ash said:

It's been too hot to get much time in the garage - over 100° F the last few days.  And that's in coastal Massachusetts!  There isn't air conditioning in the garage, though right now it's tempting to think about a heat pump for heating and cooling.  Since I'm paying outrageous prices for propane ($4.25/gallon +), my winter heating costs would go down by 60-70%.  It would take a while to recover the $5,000 for the installation but it might extend my working hours.

 

I've been trying to wire up the engine and dash.  I got some 2 gauge battery and ground cables from CustomBatteryCables.com and some ground straps.  The positive cable runs from the Optima battery to the master switch on the dash, then down to a bulkhead feedthrough on the firewall and over to the starter.  There are insulating covers on all the lugs.  A 2 gauge ground also runs through the firewall and then to the starter housing.  That should make the starter spin pretty well.  Behind the dash is currently a rat's nest of wires to connect all the gauges and switches.  Once all the wires are strung and the circuits checked out, I'll lace the wires in neat bundles with waxed cord and secure them to the dash and cowl framework.  As most of these are completely under the cowl, they won't be visible.  I'll try to hide the wires for fuel pump, fan, gas gauge, headlights, tail lights, and turn signals up under the frame rails.  What may remain visible in the engine compartment can get wrapped in black friction tape, though it's nice to know that each wire was printed by Ron Francis Wiring to indicate what it connects. 

2075071967_firewallwiring1.thumb.jpg.80325d52145bfb94e8bfb926578408f5.jpg

Firewall, regulator, and starter wiring.

 

1523087073_dashwiring1.thumb.jpg.877ca233fe1cdab87c0c6f5892a2afd0.jpg

Dash wiring partially complete, before lacing.

 

Edinmass wanted to know about the color-changing paint I invented 40 years ago when I worked at Optical Coating Laboratory in Santa Rosa, CA.  The company was later sold to JDS-Uniphase and is now known as Viavi Solutions.  I don't get any royalties, as employees of most industrial companies have to sign away their patent rights.  The paint and ink was first covered by US patent 4,434,010.  Google "ChromaFlair paint" and look at the images.  Otherwise, pull out a $20 bill and look at the number in the lower right corner that changes from gold to green in sunlight.  Here's a link to a video of an extreme example as painted on a Porsche:  

   

 

I would love to find a supplier of this type of paint that offers it in a red/yellow/orange, that I could use to flame my hot rod.

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I finally got most of the wiring done, started on the lacing.  Considering the original cars had NO wiring, I must have a half-mile of wires, mostly to meet modern highway codes for lights, turn signals, and flashers, but also because there are some electrical gauges in the car (tach, oil temp, voltmeter).  The voltmeter is there because the generator, converted from 6 volts to 12, may not be able to keep up with the electric fan (19 amps), fuel pump, etc., so I'll be on battery drain at times.  With the wires in place, I started lacing the wires into bundles "the old school way" with waxed twine.  These bundles will be mostly under the cowl, not seen.  Lacing isn't difficult but takes time to do each knot, space them evenly, and secure the ends.  Along the length of the bundles, I used a marline hitch.  Ends were tied off with a clove hitch and a square knot on top or a double loop.  Behind the dash, the big bundle is tied to a rubber-line tubing clamp so it won't bounce.  The other bundles will get the same treatment.  As with lots of small things on this project, the wiring and lacing has taken lots of time, but it feels good to see progress on it.

 

  1742660758_wiresbeforelacing.thumb.jpg.06075c2fd7746d28e680f7e3e55a62f1.jpg

Wiring before lacing.

 

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Left side of cowl frame, 18 wires to firewall.

 

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Wire lacing method.

 

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Left side of cowl bundled and laced.

 

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Left side of cowl with lacing nearly done.  Supports for bundles to be added.

 

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Right side of cowl laced.

 

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Gary, I was interested to see the printed text on the wiring. That is not something I have come across before. Is it available only in the USA?

 

1909481033_339801-04-2017s.JPG.515bac0c3f4891694fb5d9057befea7f.JPG 

 

It would have made the wiring of my fuel injected MGB V8 a lot easier!

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Posted (edited)

Mike:  I think wires with printed labeling are used mostly in industrial applications where many feet of wire with the same printing is needed.  It's the set-up time that drives the pricing.  Running off 25 feet of red wire with STARTER printed on it and then switching to 20 ft of blue wire with IGNITION printed would be time consuming.  There don't seem to be ink jet printers for wire priced for consumer use.  That said, Ron Francis Wiring sells pre-printed, fire-resistant wire kits with various printings at about $0.50 to $1 per foot for 20-25 ft coil.  These all have type GXL thick insulation rated for 135 °C versus PVC rated at 80 °C and not fire-resistant.  The color codes for the wires are available as Ford, GM, and MOPAR, but not MG or Studebaker.  Maybe other suppliers to street rod builders also have pre-printed wires available.  It is helpful to have the printing every 6 inches or so when you want to run a wire and cut it to length in place.  Many people restoring cars from before 1955-60 want woven fabric on the outside of the wire even if there is plastic insulation under the weave - no printing for them.   

 

EDIT:  Here is a link to a place that sells printed auto wire by the foot:  https://kwikwire.com/collections/accessory-wiring/products/printed-wire-by-the-foot 

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Gary, With all the research you have been involved with as you have built this Studebaker, can you refer me to a book that would put definition to the design of an Indy car from  the years 1915 to 1922?

Al

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Race-maker Press in Boston would be the people who would know of any publications of that type. If anyone has done a book, it would most likely be old and very low production. 

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It's perhaps a little later, but the Ray Kuns book "The Complete Ray Kuns Auto Racing Book" covers 1930-1947.  Some of the articles would be about earlier cars and technology.  You might get a copy on Amazon, not cheap.  John Snowberger's book about his father Russell Snowberger has numerous photos and newspaper articles dating back to the 1920s.  See http:// johnsnowberger.com.  

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Posted (edited)

The wiring is in pretty good shape.  I got the last of the runs laced up and secured with rubber-lined clamps to the chassis and cockpit frame.  I don't think they will jiggle and chafe.  Before I tightened the truss head screws for the firewall, I inserted the stainless steel trim that separates the cowl from the hood panels.  I'm not sure what was used originally, but I chose to use Model A Ford stainless bead with a 1-1/2" vinyl leg from one of the Model A parts vendors.  At least it was contemporary.  It was a little tricky forming it into the 6" radius bends around the cowl frame, had a couple of minor kinks, but dollied them out mostly.  The vinyl legs were tough to squeeze in between the 1" angle iron cowl frame pieces, so I poked a bunch of waxed twine "pullers" through the outer ends of the legs, fed them between the angle irons, and gradually pulled the legs  and the bead into position against the cowl frame.  Once the trim was in place, I poked 1/4" holes through the vinyl legs for the cowl frame bolts, pushed the bolts in, and tightened the nuts as I pulled on the twine - would have been easier with more arms and hands.  The hood panels and cowl skin are supposed to slightly slip under the bead trim, hope all will fit in the end!  One more task completed.

 

200912885_cockpitside37.jpg.4b180d716db328e8cd81ef47fb43a0d0.jpg

Cowl bead on 1931 car #37.

 

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Section of bead trim with 1-1/2" vinyl leg and bead in place between cowl 1" angle iron pieces.

 

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Twine used to pull vinyl leg in place.

 

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View from the future driver's seat.

 

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Sometimes there are tasks that you don't want to do but really must be done.  Yesterday, the task was to remove the driveshaft, pull out the transmission (100+ lbs), and drop the bell housing (25 lbs).  When I had put the transmission in some months ago, it didn't go in easily, seemed to bind on something.  As I was completing that installation, one of the four bolts suddenly turned too easily and I knew it had stripped.  These things can only be ignored just so long.  So, out came the parts.  I wasn't looking forward to having the bell housing drilled and a Helicoil inserted because I knew it had to be done exactly perpendicular to the mounting surface and exactly centered.  This wasn't going to be a job for my hand-held 1/2" drill.  However, when I got the transmission mounting bolts out, I noted that two of them were 7/16-14 and not the 1/2-13 bolts I expected.  What a dummy!  Why didn't I notice that when I did it?  It's amazing that the two smaller bolts went in at all, not surprising that one of them stripped the cast iron threads.  The good news was that the threads in the bell housing weren't completely stripped, so I ran a tap in to clean up the worst of the damage.  Even with 50% thread depth, most threads will hold well enough.

 

Then it was time to reassemble.  Today, I found a long, full-thread 3/8-16 bolt, cut the head off, and used it in the back of the block as a guide for mounting the bell housing.  It worked great, supported the weight of the housing enough to get the other four bolts and three tapered dowel pins in place.  Then I pulled the guide and put the last bolt in.  I rolled my engine hoist up to the side of the chassis, put a Harbor Freight nylon sling under the transmission, and lifted it high enough to slide the main shaft into the clutch plate and pilot bearing in the end of the crankshaft.  Having put all the wiring and instruments in, there wasn't a lot of clearance, but it was enough.  This time, all went smoothly.  I felt much better about how the transmission went in, and the shift lever seems to move much more smoothly. The four 1/2-13 bolts went in cleanly to secure the transmission, cinched down tight without stripping, followed by the driveshaft being remounted.  It was a good day's work, only a few bruises, no blood, and I only clonked my head on the engine hoist arm once (gently).

 

Another 3-day session at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop in Charlton, MA coming up this weekend.  I'll be doing more work on the tail section and the belly pan.  I'm planning on bringing the chassis and all the body parts.  I really need to get the seating area welded into the tail so I can be sure the brake and clutch pedals will be in the right place for my short legs to reach them.  Anyone in the area can drop in between 9:00 am and 10:00 pm Friday through Sunday to see the work going on.  Just wear a mask, please.

 

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Transmission being installed using engine hoist and nylon sling.

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Just returned from three hot days, 85°-90° and 80% humidity, in central Massachusetts at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop.  Doing heavy work from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm in those conditions is wearing, but we got a lot done anyway.  It didn't start well:  we were rolling the car out of the trailer when the spinner on the front wheel snagged the ramp lift cable, Wray tried to jump out of the way in case the cable snapped, and wound up falling hard on one knee plus scraping his arm and a thumb.  He did mange to move around but he was hurting that day and most of the next.  Boy, did I feel guilty.  He was much better by Sunday.  Here is the long story of what we accomplished in three days.

 

There is lots left to do on the body, so I started Wray welding together the hood bulge for the carburetors.  I put the bulge on the hood panel, traced around it, then laid out an ellipse inside the outline by 3/4".  I cut out the center and turned up the flanges using the tipping wheel to crease the metal and start the bend plus using some parallel jaw pliers on the ends.  A heavy steel slapper was used to strike the edges of the flanges to turn them up to the required angles to match the bulge.  To get a better fit, I trimmed down the flanges at the ends to about 3/8" and adjusted the flange angles around the perimeter.  Eventually, I got the bulge to fit closely to the flanges, so we drilled six 1/8" holes through the bulge and hood panel and put Cleco spring-loaded retainers in to clamp the pieces together.  From the underside, I traced where the flanges met the bulge, then cut and ground the edges of the bulge to exactly fit the flanges all around.  With the hood panel on the car in order to hold its shape, we made a few tack welds to position the bulge, then moved the parts to the welding bench.  Wray started tacking with the TIG welder around the edges, but we had to use the Clecos to put a little strap in place to hold the joint closely together as the weld metal shrinks and distorts the parts.Eventually, Wray got it welded all around the outside and ran the weld bead on the back side to strengthen the seam.  There is still a lot of grinding, polishing, and straightening of the metal to do, but the bulge is in place and looks good.  Why was this process used instead of just cutting a bigger hole to match the original bulge?  Because butt welding pieces together at angle makes it almost impossible to grind the welds and dolly the parts to smooth them.

 

1515927068_bulgeclamped.thumb.jpg.9377830610fd601686e60aca7af056df.jpg

Hood bulge pieces clamped for welding.  There is a thin pieces of copper on the back to prevent burning through this 0.050" thick aluminum.

 

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Flanges turned up and trimmed for the hood bulge.

 

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A small flat plate with Cleco clamps used to hold the parts together for tack welding.

 

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Welding completed.  There is about 6 feet of weld bead on the top and on the bottom, a lot of delicate work by Wray.

 

Meanwhile, I was forming up the roll at the top edge of the tail section where it meets the seating area.  I wanted a 1/2" radius on this roll to match the original cars, so we prepared some pieces of 15/16" diameter steel bar bent to match the curves of the tail.  I clamped the bar pieces to the inside of the tail with a piece of MDF on the outside as a backer and protector, then hammered the skin over to form the 1/2" radius.  Where the tail made some tight inside corners, the metal needed a little heat to soften it enough to bend and shrink.  On the sides of the tail in the seating compartment, I hammered the edges over a wood form to get 1/8" radius curls.  On a future visit, we'll put the seats into the tail, trim where needed, and butt weld everything together.  But at the end of Sunday evening, we put the seats in their approximate positions, dropped the tail in place, and took some photos.

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Forming the roll at the edges of the tail using steel bar as a form.  The tail is upside down for this work.

 

1835487518_seatareastaged.thumb.jpg.2c1295deb1a7c1e0cacc6022a41deb2c.jpg

The roll complete at the top of the tail section and seating area temporarily set (almost) in place.  Suction cups make it easier to lift and move metal.

 

Along the way, I also made parts for the flanges that will hold the tail to the chassis.  I used the pneumatic press brake to bend 2-1/2" wide pieces of 0.062" thick aluminum into 90 degree angles with 1-1/4" legs, then used a Wray-designed shrinker/stretcher to form the straight angles into S-bends to match the chassis rails.  These will eventually get welded to wing-shaped pieces at the back end of the chassis, then those will be riveted to the tail for support and retention.   

600169713_pressbrake-pneumatic.thumb.jpg.c2edf68fdd8621d72183ff3f04a7b7b5.jpg

12-ton pneumatic press brake used to form angles in sheet metal.  Keep your fingers clear!

 

shrinker_stretcher-Wray.thumb.jpg.53938e520d21cb7cdf31833083b09e9b.jpg

A shrinker/stretcher with a deep throat designed and built by Wray.  The jaws have a fine, stippled finish that grips but doesn't destroy metal surfaces as the cheap ones do.

 

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Aluminum angle made from 0.062" thick, type 3003-H14 aluminum that has been stretched and shrunk to make the S-bend.  These are part of the tail support.

 

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The Studebaker Indy car after a good three-day weekend at the metal shop.

 

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Just fabulous work Gary👌 I enjoy every single update you post as this is an inspiration for most of us car/truck nuts. Keep up the quality work and pace. Thank you,

 

Robert,

Norway

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Looks great..........craftsmanship is what always makes every build or restoration exceptional.........

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Well, all the Speedsters threads got moved to the “basement” of the Forum.  I hope a few of you will be able to find us here.

 

I keep looking at the backlash in the steering box. I ordered a TightSteer unit to spring-load a plunger against the sector arm, which should take up some slack.  I pulled the back cover off my spare Ross steering box and found that a long-ago owner had blobbed a layer of solder about 1/16” thick on the inside to push that sector arm against the worm. I degreased the 3/16” thick steel plate, heated it with the torch, and wiped off the solder, leaving just the thinnest layer behind.  I’ll drill and tap it for 1/2-20 thread and screw in the TightSteer.  This is a 1929 Ross box.  In 1930, Ross added an adjustment screw, which would have been easy to replace.  Since the contact point on my sector arm has a tapered hole, probably used for a lathe center during manufacturing, I’ll have to pull the whole steering assembly, remove the arm, degrease it, and fill the hole with a pin to get a smooth, flush surface.  Two steps forward, one step back...

 

B318F26B-BD26-47C9-8324-0B3055E88FDF.jpeg.8cc8c20c7d8d98ce130703a138f871fa.jpeg

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Join the club.......my car today......1917 White car.......the box was dry, except the toxic sludge..........that use to be grease........this box doesn't have an adjustment bolt for the end play, it uses shims........and no gasket........IMG_0517.jpg.dc6ad47888e07eb67ff1610dae513a88.jpgIMG_0518.jpg.603eedd9a767c0ff40cd870177f64a3b.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I took the extra cam lever arm to the machine shop, will have them drill out the worn pin, make a new one, and weld it in.  They'll also weld up the conical hole in the back end of the arm and face it smooth so I can use the TightSteer plunger. 

 

In reviewing how the seats have to get welded to the tail, some requirements have emerged.  The back edge of the cowl section fits into the tail, so there needs to be a kind of a skinny pocket about an inch deep.  The front edge of the tail and the front edge of the seating need to leave an opening for the tongue of the cowl to slip in.  This joint doesn't get clamped or bolted, so it has to fit well but not tight enough to scrape off the paint.  The tail gets stiffened in this area by a vertical extension of the flanges used to hold the tail to the chassis.  I've been staring at old photos of the Indy cars to see how this was done.  I think I need to complete the bottom flanges and the "wings" in the back that they become part of, then rivet them to the tail.  The seats need to have some bracing and a flanged piece inside to make the pocket, and these need to be riveted in before welding the seats to the tail.  The tail-to-seats weld seam will be about 6 ft long and snakes around in three dimensions.  It will take a lot of marking and trimming to get this right.To assist this process, I hung the seats against the tail with a couple of Cleco temporary fasteners.  Next the tail and seats need to be on the chassis to get the side-to-side shape right, and to shape the wings to follow the tail contours while meeting up with the front section of the flanges. 

 

I struggled through welding the two front pieces of the flanges together but decided I needed to know how to TIG weld body pieces together.  Wray has basically done all the welding for me and I haven't forced myself to get my TIG skills up to the task.  Today, I did get the pieces welded in my garage, blew a few holes through the .062" aluminum, but was eventually able to fill them in and ground everything smooth.  It feels good that I did it, even if it's not perfect TIG welding.  I have the same Everlast 210EXT TIG machine that Wray uses, have copied his settings.  We're using 50-75% helium, the rest of the gas is argon, comes pre-mixed from the welding supply house.

 

IMG_3822.JPG.02377a8d3e6de853af3e64a2dd28e6f8.JPG 

Cowl-to-tail joint in Indy car #18.

 

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Inside of cowl-to-tail joint, car #18.

 

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Front section of tail flange, car #18.

 

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Wings at back of tail flange for support from chassis rails, car #18.

 

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My welded pieces for the front of the tail flanges.

 

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Seats hung in place by three black Clecos.  Pieces need to be trimmed all around to make a perfect 3D butt joint.

 

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I got a call from Andy at the machine shop today. He said that he put the steering cam lever arm in the milling machine, tried to take a cut on the back side.  All he got was sparks!  Apparently the entire arm and the pin are extremely hard, not what I had guessed.  I had run a file over it and noted that the file didn’t cut and a trial with my automatic center punch only flattened the tip of the punch - it’s hard! He said he could grind it but not machine it or drill it, and welding was out of the question, as it would crack.  Not at all what I expected from a forging.  Looks like I need to find another arm in better condition.  The worm must be really hard if it wore out the pin. 

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9 hours ago, Gary_Ash said:

I got a call from Andy at the machine shop today. He said that he put the steering cam lever arm in the milling machine, tried to take a cut on the back side.  All he got was sparks!  Apparently the entire arm and the pin are extremely hard, not what I had guessed.  I had run a file over it and noted that the file didn’t cut and a trial with my automatic center punch only flattened the tip of the punch - it’s hard! He said he could grind it but not machine it or drill it, and welding was out of the question, as it would crack.  Not at all what I expected from a forging.  Looks like I need to find another arm in better condition.  The worm must be really hard if it wore out the pin. 


 

My experience is that lack of lubrication causes 99 percent of the box failures we have seen. Left out in the weather also doesn’t help, as they are NOT designed to be water tight. The larger series boxes from 1931 on had replaceable pins........wonder if they were having issues when the cars were relatively new.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I had laid out the wings for the tail supports when I was at Wray Schelin's shop a couple of weeks ago and bent the angles.  The back edges needed to be curled to about a 1/2" radius to match the original cars.  I had a piece of 1" steel tube, ran that through the Harbor Freight pyramid roll until it had about the right radius, say 8"-12".  As we had done on the tail section flanging, I annealed the aluminum sheet by burning off some black Sharpie pen marks with the acetylene torch, then hammered the aluminum over the tube to form the radius.  Half-hard 3003 sheet can't be bent with your fingers, but an annealed sheet can be easily formed by hand.  Annealing allows forming with shrinking to happen easily.  

 

After forming the curl, I unfolded 2" of the back section of the 90 degree bend to match the tail section surfaces.  The annealed metal moved easily.  The front end of the wing was stretched just a bit to wrap around the curve of the tail and meet up with the front section flange.  With a little hammer and dolly work, and a little shrink/stretch action, the wings were tuned to match the tail surfaces.  Once I get everything welded on the wings and flanges, I'll rivet them to the tail, then do a final trim on the edges.  Rivets have 5/32" shanks, will be on 1.5" spacing.  

 

1287300568_winganneal.thumb.jpg.b8ad4f950c7555cdbb0085e57e980921.jpg

Left side wing marked for annealing.  A heavier coat of Sharpie w and some acetylene soot as added to assure reaching 775°F for a proper anneal.

 

192403952_wingforming.thumb.jpg.cddcfb85117f00ee1670ea8288c704f7.jpg

After the Sharpie ink and soot burned off, the aluminum was soft enough to hammer over a 1" dia. tube to make the curl.

 

447909251_wingandforwardflange1.thumb.jpg.2103813540e062613db4042e3f4c65c0.jpg

The right side wing being formed up.

 

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Right side wing and forward flange ready for welding.

 

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The back edge of the wing after annealing, forming, and tuning.  Just some welding and riveting needed now!

 

 

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I tried TIG welding the wing parts together but wound up burning holes through the aluminum.  I drove out to Wray Schelin's shop, had him do the delicate welding.  As it happened, I had to drive out that way to pick up the two new wire wheels I got as spares.  Fred Belanger at New England Wheel Service in Auburn, MA, about 10 miles from Wray's shop, mounted the Stahl Sport tires and metal-stemmed tubes and balanced them. 

 

With the tail section sitting on the frame rails, I trimmed the back edge of the cowl section to match, centered up the tail left to right, and started drilling holes for the 5/32" diameter rivets.  I put Cleco fasteners in most of the holes to keep everything in alignment as I went.  Then I put a rivet in a hole and used my ATS rivet gun and a heavy 4140 steel buck to set each one.  There are 36 rivets on each side, so it took a while to do them all while working alone.  Riveting is really a 2-person job, with one person holding the buck on the back side and the other person inserting rivets and using the gun.  But, I got the job done and only slipped off the rivet a couple of times.  No serious damage was done and I dollied the metal back into place where the rivet gun pushed it in.  Later, I drilled and tapped holes in the frame rails for 1/4-20 bolts, inserted bolts from underneath, and put chromed cap nuts on the studs to hold the tail in place.  When I'm done, undoing 8 nuts allows the tail to be removed quickly for access to the fuel tank, etc.  I still have to trim the outer edge of the wings to align with the edge of the frame rails, but it's always better to have a little too much metal on the edges than not quite enough.

 

I'm headed back to Wray's next weekend, hope to get the seats welded in.

 

846403693_wing-leftside-Clecos.thumb.jpg.7ad03b67c9a4803f2022d0fafa755d29.jpg   

Drilling holes for the rivets and insertion of Cleco fasteners to hold alignment.

 

1583010044_wing-rightisde-Clecos.thumb.jpg.f3af74e033b538523d6b378d637d7eb9.jpg

Holes and Clecos on the right side before riveting.  The tail has been pushed back to get access to the rivet locations,

tire was in the way.

 

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Riveting done and a little dolly work to smooth everything. 

 

wing-left-mounted.thumb.jpg.ffc82bc68b0eb9871299aa57942c3da9.jpg

Tail after riveting and installation of hold-down bolts.

 

 

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It’s amazing how much work and detail goes into “a simple race car body”.............in some ways, the racing radius’s and flairs offer more challenge than a big sedan. I have zero body fabrication skills.......but imagine someone knocking out the same body in steel? On the true custom built cars, it’s easy to see that the fenders are made up of more than a dozen pieces. It is  astounding that the old world craftsmen pounded out fenders and body panels day in and day out......and got the lines right. Making the car look right is fifty times harder than most people realize. 

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It's probably no harder to form bodywork in steel, as 20-gauge sheet (0.036" thick) would be used versus the 0.063" thick type 3003-H14 aluminum I am using.  Wray's classes mostly focus on working with steel.  It can be formed easily enough, stretched and shrunk the same way, wheeled and planished, and welding steel is easier than aluminum.  The steel body would weigh about 71% more, though.  

 

Ed, you'll just have to sign up for one of Wray's 4-day sessions to learn some basics.  His shop is close to your old stomping grounds, anyway.

 

I think I posted these photos before, but here is Wray's copy of the 1933 Macauley Packard speedster that he has students work on from time to time.  It's been recreated from 8 or 9 photos and is all steel.  For the most part, the panels have been made by guys who have never tried their hand at making car bodies before.  The real trick is getting the wire-form body buck to have the right lines.  After that, you just work the metal sheet until it fits exactly against the form. 

 

667875265_McauleyPackardspeedster1933-colorized(sm).thumb.jpg.33e79d5bb3b16ca1d1210f3840506f1e.jpg

The original Macauley speedster (colorized photo).

 

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Front of replica Packard speedster with steel body.

 

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Rear of Packard speedster body.

 

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I truly find this making of car bodies absolutely fascinating. If I was much younger and a lot more healthier I would have loved to go on one of Ray's 4-day sessions, even though it is in America. At least I can read about and see photos in your posts Gary. Once again, thank you for sharing.

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I got to Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop on Friday morning, trailered the car there with hopes of welding in the seats to the tail of the body.  It was not to be.  Wray stood back, looked at the tail with his practiced eye, and pronounced the tail unacceptable because the left side was high by about 3/4 inch and the line of the seam at the very back of the tail off vertical in the other direction.  As he told me, my garage isn't large enough to stand back and look at these things BEFORE I went and riveted the flanges and wing pieces to the tail.  Out came the drill and #20 bit and all 72 rivets were drilled out of the flanges and wings - it wasn't quick or easy. 

 

I trimmed the bottom edge of the left side of the tail to lower that side so that the top surface of the tail no longer had a side slope.  Then Wray sawed out a frame from some 3/4 inch plywood to fit over the back end of the tail.  By twisting the wood frame and wedging it stationary, we got the rear seam line back to vertical, though the wings will have to hold it in the twisted position.  Of course, none of the rivet holes in the wings and tail lined up anymore.  The tail got crooked because of some errors in the original wire form, forcing the rear seam together for the difficult welding operation months ago, and my failure to notice the issues before riveting the the flanges on.  Sigh!

 

While the wings were off, I took care of a couple of other issues.  I welded two 2-inch long pieces of 3/4-inch diameter tube to the rear chassis crossbar so that bolts could go through the wings of the tail and belly pan to support them and resist the twisted tail.  These supports were on the original cars but I hadn't noticed them in old photos when my chassis was built.  I hated burning the chassis paint, but I'll touch it up and the area will be under the wings anyway.  Another issue was that some of the bolts that hold the rear spring shackle mount in place go through the top of the frame rails making the heads stick up about 3/16 inch, preventing the wings from sitting flat on the rail tops.  I already knew this was a problem but hadn't decided exactly how to deal with it.  The bolts can't go through the wings because the nuts would be inaccessible.  Needing a quick decision, I settled on the method used on the green #37 car:  press some raised areas into the rear corners of the wings above the bolt heads.  I made a 3" x 6" rectangle from some 1/4" plywood and a mating L-shaped pieces.  The wings went into a 32-ton hydraulic press with the rectangle on the bottom, the L on top with about 1/4" offset, and heavy steel plates and bars above to distribute the force.  I jacked the hydraulic cylinder until it wouldn't go any farther, then pulled out the wing with the necessary bump in it.  The wings and flanges need to be re-riveted, are being held in place temporarily by a few screws, but I'll have to fill and grind many of the old holes and weld on a narrow strip of aluminum along the bottom of the tail  for some new rivet holes. 

 

It was frustrating to undo a lot of work, but now the tail is level side-to-side and the rear seam is properly vertical.  I go back to Wray's shop in a couple of weeks, maybe this time the seats will get welded in.  Last week, I also installed a Harbor Freight 3500 lb electric winch and big 12 volt battery in the front of the enclosed trailer, made it a lot easier and safer to load and unload the car.  I put a snatch block at the back end of the trailer by the ramp door so I could also use the winch to pull the car out of the trailer on my upward sloping driveway apron to the garage.  Now I can load and unload by myself instead of having my long-suffering wife help to roll the car uphill.  I try to save those "asks" for really difficult stuff. 

 

868391824_rearofchassis.JPG.43c34a95eadc1a52eda0f543266d6ad0.JPG

New tubes for support points welded to chassis crossbar and bolt heads on top of frame rails.

 

1176685608_wingcar37.JPG.67570263035d208d6018c893f4bc5cee.JPG

Wing on Studebaker Indy car #37 showing raised area to clear bolt heads.  Strangely, there is no through-bolt, though

the support points are on the crossbar in photos from 1980.

 

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The die shapes for pressing the wing.  Rectangle on bottom, L on top of metal.

 

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The wing and die in the press with lots of steel pieces to distribute the force.

 

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The wing after pressing.

 

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The "tail twister" held in place by bungee cords and wedged on the bottom to rotate the skin.  Narrow blue tape marks the 

line which should be vertical.

 

37554657_indysideview092720.jpg.49587e045aa70f35c2c0d69a848bf035.jpg

The car with the tail and seats temporarily in place.

 

 

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
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Gary.....having to adjust the tail while disappointing is certainly not the end of the world. Getting it right is what a craftsmanship is all about. I wouldn’t have the courage to even attempt half of what you accomplished in Wray’s class. It’s the guys like Wray who have an eye for body panels that see stuff 99 percent of others would never catch. I have the “eye” on certain year cars..........1905-1917 &  1929-1935. Having studied thousands of cars over the years gives you the “feel” if something is or is not correct. Developing new skills today for me is not as easy in years past........and I don’t think I would attempt to even try building a body. My hat is off to you for seeing the project through......and not taking any shortcuts. 👍👍👍

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

One of these days, the seats will get welded into the tail, but this past weekend was not the time - again.  However, we did get a bunch of things accomplished in preparation for the welding.  As previously noted, the tail was cocked to one side and was corrected by removing the riveted-on wings and trimming the bottom edge of the tail on one side, plus a little twist to the tail.  Over the weekend, I cleaned up a number of details on the wings, like change a sharp 90 degree cut to a radiused cut to prevent future cracking of the skin, then re-riveted them to the tail.  I formed and riveted in a shield and steel stiffener on each side of the seating area to enclose the tongue from the cockpit section.  These had to be riveted in before welding as the back side of the rivets would not have been accessible once the seats were welded in.  I think things are now really ready for the welding. 

 

Wray suggested I support the seats on some milk crates and wood blocks to get the height right, then drill holes and install a bunch of Cleco fasteners to locate the seats against the tail.  The seats overlap the tail section because I left extra metal on both pieces, so we'll use the small air saw to trim the pieces for a good butt fit.  I blocked up the seats as a rehearsal for this, took photos to check the driveshaft clearance.  Wray is concerned that the seat bottoms won't be stiff enough to support the weight of two people, though the original cars seem OK.  I ordered a 30" long piece of 1.5" x .75" x .12 wall rectangular steel tube to place under the seat pans, will secure it with screws.  It took me a while to calculate the required tube size and thickness to support 450 lbs with deflection under 0.25" for the tube alone and stress level well below yield.  Bolted to the seat pans, the assembly will be much more than stiff enough.  Parts on order.

 

I started on design and fabrication of the parking/emergency brake actuator system.  The original cars have a cross-shaft about 1.25" diameter with a pivot on each end just in front of and below the front edge of the seats.  There is a 180° bend to get under the drive shaft plus two 90° bends.  I tried to buy some pre-formed bends in nominal 1" Schedule 40 steel pipe from Sharpe Products but didn't meet the minimum order value of $100 so I requested a quote for a one-piece custom tube with all the bends, could save a lot of welding and grinding time.   They'll get my $100 and more.  I'll still have some machining and welding to do, but not bad.  Each end will get a piece of steel round bar welded in and a ball-bearing pillow block from Dayton.  I still need to order a pair of new parking brake cables from a supplier of vintage Buick parts, cut them to length, and swage on new stops on the steel cables.  I'm counting on using one of the sailboat rigging shops in my area to swage on new stops on the shorter cables.   

 

594419977_wingtrimmed.jpg.b3064a0c3d3294fc388cad509db65e09.jpg

Right side wing trimmed and re-riveted to tail.  My riveting work improved with practice.

 

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Left side of seating area with shield and 3/4 x 1/8 steel stiffener riveted in.

 

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Right side of seating area with shield and stiffener.  Right side is taller than left side to allow exhaust pipe down the outside.

 

460829168_seatbottom.jpg.41d17ee7ff33c678992ba16f5db0a950.jpg

Rear and bottom of seating area showing bulge to clear drive shaft and axle housing.

 

652682614_seatunderside.jpg.a9e39c1b8b3a59a5dbb07b4396cdf0ac.jpg

Underside of seats showing driveshaft clearance.  A heavy steel tube will be installed to protect against front U-joint failure.

 

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Design for the parking brake actuator tube.

 

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Original car #22 chassis under restoration at Studebaker factory in 1962 showing parking brake actuator tube (3rd from bottom).  Other cross tubes are

for operation of cable-operated service brakes at all four wheels.  I'm using hydraulic brakes, won't need all the tubes.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The 1" schedule 40 steel pipe bends came in from Sharpe Products.  I trimmed the straight legs off the 4" radius U bend, then welded the short radius 90° bends to it.  I'll extend the straight sections to go from side to side of the chassis where the pivot points will be, then weld on the bellcranks.  I decided to add a middle crossmember as there appears to be one in the photo above, the center cross pipe of the the three.  As finicky as I am about some things, I decided to bend the pipe myself, rather than weld up some pieces.  I wanted to minimize the risk of cracked butt welds that would be subject to bending stress.  There are some piping shops in my area but I figured I'd pay a lot and have little control over actual bend radii. 

 

Off to Harbor Freight and came back with their $129, 12-ton hydraulic pipe bender.  It's heavy!  This bends schedule 40 and schedule 80 steel pipe but doesn't work on thin-wall tube, just makes kinks.  The bender has dies for 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1-1/2, and 2" pipe, can bend up to 90 degrees.  I had to measure the die for 1" pipe to figure out the centerline radius, which appears to be 4 diameters or 5.26".  When pipe is bent, the inside of the curve compresses and shrinks and the outside stretches.  The centerline length is supposed to stay unchanged.  I laid out the crossmember in my CAD program, figured out where the bends were supposed to be, and printed out some paper gauges for 25° and 50° bends.  The length of pipe went in the bender, I pumped up the hydraulic cylinder until the gauge and pipe matched.  The bender does flatten the pipe a little at the apex of the bend, plus the compression at the inside of the bend, so the pipe gets a bit wider and sticks firmly in the die.  I had to pound on the die with a brass drift to free it from the pipe.  That left a few marks on the pipe which I ground off.  I did get the shape and dimensions I wanted; and, I think buying the bender cost me less than going to a piping shop, plus I got instant gratification.  Of course, now I have no further need for a pipe bender.  Still some machining and welding to do, but it's progress.  

 

1237511597_HFpipebender.thumb.jpg.79514d10fba8bc25bacc41dcfdd7310a.jpg

 

Harbor Freight 12-ton pipe bender.

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Drawing for middle crossmember.

 

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U bend for brake actuator tube welded and middle crossmember tube after bending.  Compare to last photo in previous post.

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I got a call from Mike Cleary, the owner of the blue #18 car, and his son Jamie.  They were in their garage and had pulled the tail off #18 to get some photos for me.  I was able to see a lot of things that helped with the fabrication of the crossmembers.  At least I was headed in the right direction but the details are valuable.  Here are a few of the photos they sent showing the details of the crossmember for the handbrake actuation and of the structural crossmember, which also has two small plates for adding support to the seat bottoms.  The third crossmember pipe shown in the 1962 photo for 4-wheel cable brake operation is absent because Mike's car has hydraulic brakes.  They also sent a photo of the rear axle showing brake line locations and pipes for connecting seat belts.  What a great help!  Thank you many times, Mike and Jamie.

 

612801091_crossmembers1.jpg.aaa8d5491ed1c001305a2867d6c69ef0.jpg

Crossmembers, transmission, and belly pan views.  The two small horizontal plates support the seat bottoms.

 

1843086255_crossmembers2.jpg.e1a239a5233ac44950d4810a1c0ea58b.jpg

Left crossmember actuates the rear brakes from the handbrake lever by rotating, right one is structural.

 

1402037838_rearaxle1.jpg.d0b4a9dd678c9879c6eebb8d984427ae.jpg

View of rear axle and belly pan.  Black pipes with eyes are for seat belt attachments.

Hole in bottom of pan and louvers are for air circulation and checking oil level in axle.

 

 

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